As mentioned in an earlier entry this evening I ventured into the world of culture as Robin and I headed to Queen’s Hall (which is all of 2 minutes from my home ) to see Hamare Taal the latest offering from Sat Balkaransingh. I love dance but I confess I had never sat through an entire evening of kathak dancing. I am happy to support Sat, though, and after Robin reminded me that we were going i made it home in time to don something respectful and allow him to drive us to the venue.
The event was fairly well attended considering that it is Plymouth “Jazz” Festival weekend and I was sorry I didn’t think to wear an Indian outfit as much of the crowd had opted for that approach. I really must find some occasions other than Divali to wear the getup as I think I am able to pull it off quite well. I was pleased to see Sat’s wife Mondira who is an incredible talent herself and also a genuinely lovely and intelligent person so we exchanged a few words before the show started. Before I even get to the show I feel a few venting words are in order. Why do people feel it necessary to have conversations with each other during performances? Is it that they wish the cover of darkness for the exchange of inanities or are they deliberately flirting with the prospect of me leaping out of my seat and doing them bodily harm? For that matter, why do people, after being told to turn off their cell phones insist of having them on and using the screen to read during the performance under the incorrect assumption that the light does not distract others around them? As I sat there fuming I decided that it is either stupidity or unspeakable uncouthness that leads to such behaviour but it may well be a combination of both. If people spend a long time rehearsing and creating the least you can do is shut the hell up and turn off your damned mobile…face it.. you really aren’t that popular and important anyhow.
I am not a dance critic and Robin is even less so but in general there were parts of the evening that i really liked. The music under the direction of Mungal Patesar was exceptional and the I found the rhythmic jingling of the gunghru ( ankle bells..I had to look it up) captivating . There were some performances during the evening that I thought to be pure magic but others were a bit less so. I commend Sat for trying to fuse other forms of dance such as tap and the traditional Trinidad Bele dance into the evening but I am not entirely sure it worked. The other dancers were good – even very good – but I never felt they contributed anything to the overall show. As I told Robin I love Pernod and I love Scotch but i don’t really want them mixed in the same glass. I say this as someone who can hardly be accused of being a purist when it comes to Indian dance but given my enjoyment of the kathak dancing I saw I wish I had been able to absorb it without tap dancers throwing in their efforts. I laud Sat for his effort to tie together the ribbons of Trinidad culture but I feel sometimes individual ribbons are best when left alone. The other rather odd touch was the protracted explanatory narration between segments. This consisted of not just a description of the meaning of what was to come but also detailed information about each performer and what seemed like their entire working and academic history. These long talking bits tended to destroy whatever narrative existed to tie all the performances together. Perhaps it would suffice to just leave such information in the programme. With that being said I enjoyed the evening and I am glad I made the effort to see something that expanded my cultural horizons a little bit.
After the show Robin and I ended up at Alvin’s bar/lounge since I was not driving and Robin is fairly easy to convince when I set my mind to it. We basically just chatted with Alvin for a couple of hours as he worked the door but it was fun and I even got to collect cover charges for a bit ( though i was a wee bit overdressed). At some point during our chit chats the guy who washes Alvie’s car showed up and i asked him if he could wash mine if he is available during the week..to which he readily consented. I mention him only because he stayed chatting for a bit and it is startling how well spoken he is. We are dealing with someone who is articulate, well groomed and clearly intelligent who spends his days hustling odd jobs and his nights sleeping heaven knows where. I learned that drugs are at play in this scenario but it is really sad that someone who speaks better than the average working person in Trinidad ends up like this. I have never been addicted to illegal drugs but I think it is a cautionary tale for us all. I guess I was naive enough to think that someone heavily into crack (or whatever it is they use nowadays) should look and sound like my idea of a drug addict…as they say…you live and you learn..even at my age.